Coast Guardsman opens fire on shark to protect fellow crew on swim break

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The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter had a scary encounter with a shark while swimming this week.

Luckily, a fellow crew member who was standing watch had their backs.

More than 30 crew members from the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball – plus an inflatable unicorn – were in the water on a swim break, taking advantage of what they described in a Facebook post as “perfect” weather.

“Everyone was having a great day. Everyone was smiling and having fun. It was perfect! And then… Bridge personnel reported ‘Shark!’ over the radio,” the post read.

Video shot by a crew member shows the 6-8-foot-long shark was about 30 feet away from the swimmers and heading directly toward them.

After the shark was reported, Maritime Enforcement Specialist 1st Class Samuel Cintron fired a few rounds in front of it. The shark briefly turned away for a few seconds and then turned back.

The crew rushed to get out of the water, heading to a nearby small boat, climbing a ladder on the side of the cutter or heading to a boat ramp at the stern of the cutter.

Cintron continued to fire bursts at the shark, each one briefly forcing it to turn away, but it kept turning back and Cintron continued firing until all of his shipmates were safe, the USCGC said.

No injuries were reported aside from one swimmer who scraped a knee climbing aboard. The inflatable unicorn also survived the encounter.

After reviewing the video, the Coast Guard said the shark was likely a Long-Fin Mako or Pelagic Thresher Shark.

The cutter later updated their Facebook post with this statement:

For those asking about the shark, we don’t think the shark was injured. Our goal was to keep it away from shipmates, not harm it if possible. It was most likely curious and not looking for a meal. We picked our location to try and avoid such an encounter but it is their ocean after all.  It later joined a few smaller buddies that showed up and they swam off together.- not something to mess with! 

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